Shildon 0 Hartlepool Utd 4: Wing-backs' positivity has Pools boss Matthew Bates purring

Hartlepool United ran out 4-0 winners at Northern League side Shildon last night.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 7:15 am
Hartlepool United striker Niko Muir. Picture by Frank Reid

Returning striker Luke James marked his first start with a strike – the frontman netted Pools’ third as Matthew Bates’s National League men ran riot at Dean Street.

Lewis Hawkins opened the scoring on 26 minutes, lobbing in from 25 yards after a defensive mistake. It was 2-0 within 60 seconds as Jake Cassidy pounced from close range to net a goal on return to the side.

Then, just before the break, James got his first goal back in blue and white as he tapped home after a Cassidy effort was parried by Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook.

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A raft of changes on the hour mark – with just Louis Laing and Brook Miller remaining –did little to dampen Pools’ desire.

Muir, fresh from his strike against Sunderland in Saturday’s 1-1 draw, made no mistake when presented with the chance to double his pre-season tally, tucking in after a shot from trialist Dimi Gioukoudis was saved.

The rampant, attacking show was only possible due to the tireless efforts of Pools’ wing-backs – Peter Kioso, Kenton Richardson and Mark Kitching – according to the manager.

“We want to be solid at the back but we also want to have a threat and get numbers in the box,” said Bates. “The wing-backs give us options. They are fit players who get forward and back and that allows us to play the way we want to.”

Bates was delighted to see Muir score. “Getting another goal is fantastic for his confidence,” said Bates. “He is a confident lad, but anyone would doubt themselves stepping up in levels. So for him to score, it can only do him the world of good.”